Pot for fun still illegal, CDC helps kill bill

March 2, 2017

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CURTIS C. WYNNE
NEWS-SUN

The Community Drug Coalition of Lea County earned high credit for helping to stop legislation intended to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico, according to Rep. David Gallegos, R-Eunice.

House Bill 89, Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, died in the House Business and Industry Committee (HBIC) on Monday by a vote of 9-1 to kill it.

Gallegos said he made a point to provide, by the dozens, informational trifolds, developed by the CDC, to other legislators.

"The detail in there (the CDC documents) opens our eyes to some of the issues we're going to have statewide (if marijuana is legalized). I don't want to replicate what they have in Colorado,” he said. "It's really a bad deal once you look at all the social issues, the hurt created.”

After having met with Gallegos before the session began, CDC officials sent shipments of the publications to him for distribution.

Among some of the Colorado data provided is a 48 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths since Colorado’s 2013 legalization of recreational marijuana, a 49 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits and a 100 percent increase in marijuana-related calls to the poison center.

Although Gallegos is not a member of the HBIC, he attended the hearing and urged against legalization of recreational marijuana. Several speakers spoke on both sides of the issue in a session that lasted more than two hours.

Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola, chairs the House Business and Industry Committee. Gallegos told the News-Sun, “The committee voted 9-1 to kill the bill and Rep. Rodella has taken a lot of flack for that. They're lashing out at her because her committee killed the bill.

"When a billis killed 9-1 it tells us it's really bad for the state. In all reality, it's not about getting credit. It's about doing the right thing," he added. "I think what she did is right by the state. She took the hit for the State of New Mexico.”

The only representative who voted for the bill was Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe.

"He didn't vote for it because it was good for the state. There’s a political decision because he needed some help on another bill," Gallegos said. "He doesn’t like the bill, wouldn't vote for it on the floor, but he wanted to at least be in favor of it for a trade-off.”

Gallegos praised both the CDC and Rodella for their efforts to kill the marijuana bill.

Before going to the HBIC, the bill had come out of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee without recommendation, but with only one vote against it, that of Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell.

Gallegos said it is unlikely supporters will succeed passing a Senate Joint Resolution designed to put a constitutional amendment for marijuana legalization on the next general election ballot due to the short time left in the current Legislative session. The session will end in less than three weeks.

"We'll be watching because we've got quite a few people trying to figure out what's their next move," Gallegos concluded. "But I really feel good, with the numbers being on the Democrats’ side, that 9-1 is very, very good for us statewide."